ISLAMABAD: Although the commission investigating the circumstances surrounding the killing of Osama bin Laden by US commandos in Abbottabad in May this year seems to be heading nowhere, on Tuesday it barred people involved in the probe from going abroad. In a terse press release, the commission barred all relevant people from travelling abroad. The press release carried only one name, that of Dr Shakeel Afridi who allegedly helped conduct a phoney polio vaccination campaign at the behest of the CIA to secure DNA of Osama bin Laden and his family.
It said: “Abbottabad commission has imposed a ban on travelling for all persons related to Abbottabad incident, including Dr Shakeel Afridi, till further orders. No such person should be allowed to leave the country without clearance from Abbottabad commission.”
Dr Afridi is already under custody of the Inter Services Intelligence. Confirming the detention of Dr Afridi by the ISI, a senior security official said the agency was interrogating the medical doctor because he had been found involved in anti-state activities.
Asked about the reason for specifically mentioning the name of Dr Afridi in the press release by the Abbottabad commission when he was already in custody, the official said the commission might have thought that the doctor could leave the country if released by the ISI.
Earlier, the commission had stopped the government from releasing Osama’s widows and children without permission.
One conjecture why Dr Afridi by name has been barred from travelling abroad is the reported telephone call from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to President Asif Ali Zardari a week ago for his release. According to media reports, the president turned down the request, arguing that Dr Afridi was facing a judicial inquiry.
The opposition PML-N has already rejected the setting up of the commission.
Talking to Dawn, PML-N information secretary Senator Mushahidullah Khan said his party knew from day one that the commission was a waste of time because it was formed without consulting the leader of the opposition, negating the collective wisdom of parliament. He said one shouldn’t expect anything concrete from the commission because some of its members had a “questionable track record”.
The PML-N wanted a certain timeframe for the commission to give its final recommendations, but the government has included no such provision in its terms of reference.
The commission is headed by a recently retired senior judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Javed Iqbal, while a former chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, Lt-Gen (retd) Nadeem Ahmed, former inspector general of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police Abbas Khan and former career diplomat Ashraf Jehangir Qazi are its members.